Marsala's own playing was rich and graceful, owing a lot to Jimmie Noone. Although usually thought of as a "dixielander" along with Eddie Condon, Marsala was more adventurous: in the 1940's he used Dizzy Gillespie on a recording session, for instance.
That said, he did have some difficulties adjusting to the bebop era and other clarinetists also found their skills less in demand. By 1949 he partly switched to writing songs in the genre now called classic pop. He did this primarily for Frank Sinatra and Patti Page. Among these songs was the hit Don't Cry, Joe (Let Her Go, Let Her Go, Let Her Go), which led friends to the unfounded fear his marriage to Adele Girard was over. He also wrote And So to Sleep Again for Patti Page.